Alternate Reality Viewing

The word of the day was: pareidolia

The garage was a mess of tools, metals, and things she couldn’t name. Sitting in the centre, soldering a tiny circuit board, was her best friend. “Jayne, what are you doing now?” She was sitting cross legged in front of what looked like a steampunk microwave the size of a small car.

“I figured it out last night. Just like Doc Brown, I was in the shower and boom I fell, and when I woke up I had it.” Jayne’s curly brown hair was all over the place and she had a large bruise on her temple.

“So instead of going to the hospital with a possible concussion, you built a time machine?” Miranda tried to sound scolding but it struck her both as typical and a little funny.

“Oh Picard,, no! I’d never even try. Time is too fragile and yuck.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I created a way to see into alternate realities.”

“Is this about Mal?” That was Jayne’s ex. They’d been together for four years, but after one too many nights tinkering in the garage, Mal left.

A horrified look crossed Jayne’s face and she replied, “Absolutely not. Obsessing over the path not taken would only lead to madness. I figured out a way to see the media from alternate realities.”

“Are you sure you’re not just staring into that thing and seeing what you want?”

Sighing loudly and dramatically, Jayne replied, “These are crisp, high definition, media from another reality, not some pareidolia.” Standing up and brushing off her dirt covered jeans, she took a USB drive from the machine and gestured to her friend to follow her.

They sat down on the couch in the living room and Jayne put the USB into the TV. She navigated to a file called, “1.06-Dead-Or-Alive.mkv” and pressed play.

That’s when Miranda cued in to what was happening. “You said media from another reality? You broke the laws of physics so we could watch—”

She was cut off by the intro music, “Take my love, take my land…”

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Point Zero – Word of the Day – Cloister

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Every generation has a disaster that is etched into their memories. My grandparents had JFK, my parents had 9/11, and we had first contact.

It was a cool August night in my childhood hometown. It had a name at the time, something nature related that no one cares about; now it’s called Point Zero. It was a small town barely numbering in the four digits. I sat on the duck in the grade school playground, it sprung back and forwards every time I took a drink from the bottle of vodka in my hand.

The small schoolyard had a fence around it. You could say that the yard was as cloistered from the town as the town was from the rest of the world. Other than the media from the outside world, Point Zero was its own little world.

The five of us sat on various remnants of our youth and drank to forget that we’d be leaving soon. Each of us heading to a college, university, or apprenticeship. I was supposed to be leaving the next day; I’d managed an apprenticeship with my uncle as an electrician at the new diamond mine near Timmins.

Frank was going into theatre in Toronto, Mel was heading to Vancouver for animation, Jane was going to study and travel the world in Ottawa, and finally James was going to save the world on the east coast.

“Is it a relief to have found what you want to do for the rest of your life James?” asked Mel.

“Sure,” her replied tentatively.

“Must be nice to have found your porpoise.” She burst into giggles and the rest of us groaned. We’d been friends our whole lives and despite multiple hiccups we’d managed to stay together.

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you’re on your own?” Frank asked the group.

“I’d say get drunk, but I’m not doing that anymore.” Jane shook her fourth beer before adding, “Without you freaks to keep me safe, I’m going to be paranoid of everyone.”

“I’m going to make a huge chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, and I’ll eat it without having my mom yelling at me.” Mel’s mom was a diet freak and severely allergic to chocolate. I’d once forgotten to brush my teeth before coming over at Halloween and almost sent the woman to the hospital.

“I’m going to go swimming in the ocean,” James said wistfully.

“How about you Sam?” Frank asked me, his green eyes seemed to glow in the yellow streetlight.

I took another swig of vodka to avoid answering the question. I’d had a crush on Frank since… well since I met him in kindergarten. Tonight was my last chance, so I thought, to tell him how I felt.

“I don’t know,” I replied lamely.

“Going to stay current?” Mel’s pun fell flat as the park was flooded with bright green light and searing fire. I still have nightmares about the green fire, the smell, and the pain.

The entire thing felt like it lasted minutes, but when we awoke on the glass surface known as Point Zero it was three months later and the five of us were alone.

Read Chapter 1

If you enjoyed this word of the day story, you can find more on our stories page and catch up on this year’s serial story, Devices of Desire

Quantum Echoes – Word of the Day – Animus


“Ghosts don’t exist! They just don’t. To believe in ghosts is the domain of children, the religious, and idiots.” I was being harsh and I knew it.

“What if I told you I could help you see them, with an app for your cellphone?” The woman looked completely rational, if a little silly, talking about ghosts in a fairy-tale worthy ball gown.

I adjusted the top of my dress self-consciously; I shouldn’t have worn a strapless dress. I didn’t have anything to keep it up and it was tight enough to make me feel suffocated but not to stay in place. With my clothes back in place, I snorted derisively, “Are you, a scientist, going to tell me you actually believe that the souls of the dead wander the earth? Must be awfully crowded. Is this app going to cost me a dollar and then show me cartoon Caspers in Augmented Reality?”

I’m not sure where my animus was coming from. I didn’t believe in ghosts, but I normally didn’t try arguing with people about it. Maybe it was the golden award for innovation that she held or the fact that she wasn’t just successful but wealthy and ridiculously beautiful. I wanted to be her and be with her all at the same time.

“Tamsym. I’m serious. This is going to change the way we see well…” she waved her perfectly manicured hands around, “everything.”

Sighing and wishing I’d stayed home instead of coming to this stupid gala, I said, “Fine. What’s the app?”

A mad glimmer flashed in her eyes, something better suited to Doctor Frankenstein, and said, “Give me your phone and I’ll install it.” I gave her my work phone and she talked while she did something to it. “I’m not saying they’re souls in the biblical way. I think they’re quantum echoes, a copy of us that is emotionally embedded into the fabric of the universe.”

It sounded like a bunch of technical terms smooshed together, but I wasn’t the award winning physics scientist that she was, I was just a lowly biologist. “What?”

“When something happens that is extremely emotional, it leaves a mark on the physical location. It’s an emotional quantum echo. Like a double exposed photograph.” I should have known something odd was going on. The woman in front of me shouldn’t have remembered a time before digital photography. “The most amazing part is that the echoes aren’t necessarily from the past or our reality.”

Giving me my phone back, she smiled. It was halfway between the smile you give a lover and the smile a cartoon cat gives a cartoon mouse. I looked at my phone and clicked the Quantum Echo app and looked at the screen.

It activated my camera, and as with every other augmented reality app, it showed the world as it is with an overlay of something else. In this case, it showed a ghostly outline of myself and the beautiful woman walking away hand in hand. “Is this a joke?” I asked.

“No.” she continued to smile.

I followed the shadows through the halls of the meeting hall until they walked through a door. I followed into the large closet and gasped at seeing myself in the screen of my phone kiss the other woman. I walked into the closet and heard a small click as the door closed behind me.

The me in the screen turned to look directly at the camera. Her face was twisted in terror with large eyes. She was saying something but the app didn’t show audio. She continued to try and say something and I started to try and read lips. She gave me the finger and pointed behind me. I tried to turn around and see what was behind me, but I never finished the turn…

If you enjoyed this word of the day story, you can find more on our stories page and catch up on this year’s serial story, The Database of the Ageless Kings.

Blue Victory VS Doctor D.U.M.B.

“You have besmirched my good name!” The man in a long purple lab coat bellowed as he took a step closer to the edge of the building.

“What name is that?” I asked, trying to sound calm. I had no idea who this person was or why he’d taken my date hostage.

Waving the weird contraption in my direction as he spoke he said, “Doctor Umberto Michael Berman! World’s premier interdimensional scientist.”

Laura squeaked as he pointed the device back at her head.

“Oh… Doctor D.U.M.B. You were running dangerous experiments on runaway teens. You smirched your own name.”

“Not helping, Verity…” growled Laura. Even held captive by a crazed scientist she still had time to glare at me. She looked good, even captured by a mad scientist. I should have asked her out earlier. Her long orange curly hair flew in the wind, and there was a lot of wind on the roof of an 80 storey building.

“Your article destroyed my credibility. You and that blasted Blue Victory!”

“Okay Doc… You’re really close to the edge of the building, you have my date hostage, what do you want?” I took a small step forward, trying to look harmless by spreading my arms out.

“I want you to pay for what you’ve done. I want you to suffer as I have suffered. I lost everything, my wife left me, my company disowned me, and I’m wanted by the police… I want you to suffer.”

“You realize that you’re holding my boss and editor hostage, right? She tortures me on a regular basis.”

“I’m not an idiot. I can tell this is a date. No one shows that much cleavage for a business meeting.” He gestured at me with the device again. Looking down at myself, I had to agree I’d never wear this to the office. Laura was my boss and editor and had I worn this to work she’d have given me a sweater.

“So you want to make me suffer. How can I make that happen without anyone getting thrown off the roof?” I took another step forward, if I could get close enough I could grab her and blame my speed on adrenaline.

I shouldn’t have mentioned the roof, he looked behind him, startled, and still holding Laura, fell backwards.

A quick spin helped me telepathically change into my Blue Victory costume and I ran and leapt off the building. I ran down the building for a little trying to spot the Doctor and Laura. They were both falling fast, as one does without the ability to fly.

As quickly as I could, I flew towards Laura and gently grabbed her by the waist. I did the same with the Doc and slowed our decent until we landed gently on the pavement.

The Doc’s eyes were wide with terror as he said, “Thank you Blue Victory. I thought I was going to die.”

In contrast, Laura’s eyes were equally as wide, but in surprise and recognition, “You’re…” she started and reached out, taking off my glasses. I had forgotten to take them off.

“Where did my Dimensional-Tunneller go?” The Doctor asked and I saw the device fall a few feet away from Laura. A beam of yellow energy shot out from it towards her and I rushed to push her out of the way. For the first time in my life I was too slow and we were both caught by the ray.

The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Three

Part 1 | Part 2

“DINOSAURS!” yelled Felix. The woman had forced him to come to work on his day off, which turned out ok since his house exploded, and then dragged him around town avoiding people who didn’t know how to spell and now she was blaming it on dinosaurs?

“Keep your voice down Felix. May I call you Felix?”

“No you may not. I’m leaving,” he stood up thinking that although she was attractive and saved his life, it was no excuse for him to stick around and listen to her crazy statements. But there was one thing he needed to know, “Why are ‘they’ after me and why does the news think I blew up my apartment?” He was standing now and was mildly impressed by the lack of interest people were showing in his loud and insane conversation.

“Mister Felicis. Please just sit down and I’ll tell you,” she sounded like a grade school teacher chastising a student. Her voice was calm and eyes narrowed.

He sat down.

“Good good. Now the police believe you blew up the building because they found a bomb inside your apartment. Or I suppose remnants of a bomb at this point. The Dinosaurs put it there.”

“And?” He had never tried to hide his impatience with her and he didn’t try now.

“Oh, I’d love to have an ice cream cone. I haven’t had one since two-thousand and twenty five. Oh and they make them with real milk here. What a treat.” She stood up and went to the counter to order her ice-cream cone.

Everything she said sounded odd but she talked about two-thousand and twenty five as if it was in the past. This worried Felix but he wasn’t sure why. When she came back he asked her, “What year do you think it is right now?”

Again she gave him a condescending look and replied, “Two-thousand and fifteen, April 1st.” she was right and ignored his confusion.

“Where are you from?” why was he asking these questions? He knew he wouldn’t like the answers.

“The future,”

“No. Try again.”

“Uhm… I come from the future.”

“Time travel isn’t possible. Any universe that would allow time travel would be messy and filled with paradoxes. In the end it would destroy itself.”

“I’m sorry but you’re wrong. The universe isn’t some priceless vase. It won’t crack that easy.”

This time he didn’t say anything he just stood up and left. The door out squeaked and cool air felt nice on his face. It was early afternoon now and he just walked. He had no idea where to go or what to do but he needed to get away from Miss Eris and her crazy theories.

It seemed that his subconscious had decided what to do when he saw that he was walking towards his brother’s home. Once there he’d explain everything to his brother Dean and his partner Sam and they’d formulate a plan.

Maybe the reason Miss Eris didn’t want him to go to the police was that she had planted the bomb in order to feed her sick fantasies.

His brother’s home was a small stand-alone house not far from downtown. It took Felix less than ten minutes to get there. It was small but cozy and despite Dean’s inability to organize, Felix still enjoyed visiting.

As Felix turned onto his brother’s street there was a loud whistling noise as if someone had built a sky scrapper sized tea-kettle. Felix fell to his knees and covered his ears. When the sound was over her looked down the street and blinked several times.

Standing in front of his brother’s home was a thirty foot tall gorilla. One of its eyes had been converted into some sort of laser pointer and one of its arms appeared to be made of metal. Attached to its hunched back was a saddle, sitting in this saddled was a small scaly reptile. Its yellow lizard eyes focused on Felix and it lifted what looked like a machine gun from an old gangster movie.

With a hissing voice it said, “Felix Felicis, you are tried by the Sauren court and found guilty of crimes against time and space. Prepare to die.”

Read Part 4

Word of the Day story April 1, 2014

It was Felix’s birthday and the day he hated the most in the world, the first of April.

For most people it’s a harmless tradition, a day to make people laugh, cry, or get angry. It was all in good fun, unless it was your birthday. If you were born on Christmas no one expected you to be an excellent gift giver. If you were born on Valentine’s Day no one expected you to be an amazing lover but if you were born on April Fools, you had to be an excellent prankster.

Felix didn’t even like pranks or jokes really. He was a serious man, which was reflected in his charcoal gray suit, simple tie, and professional haircut. His shoes were buffed and his world was organized. Just way he wanted it.

Every year since he had started working, he’d take the day off. Stating that it was nice to take his birthday off, the real reason was to avoid the chaos and frustration that the day brought him. Even then he’d sit in his home and fret about the possible and horrible pranks that the sillytonians of his city might attempt.

Unfortunately that day he had an important meeting and try as he might his client refused to move the date. So he was going into the office and he was going to be careful and vigilant. No one was going to trick him this year.

At his desk there was an envelope, in a disgustingly cheery blue colour. It said Happy Birthday Felix. Taking the handkerchief from his pocket, he nudged the envelope into the trash. You could never be too careful, he thought.

“Happy Birthday Felix!” stated Margery, his cubical mate. She was a distastefully messy person and even worse, she was always cheerful.

He looked at her and narrowed his eyes. What did she mean by happy birthday?

He pursed his lips. Why did she look so smug?

He tensed his shoulders. She wouldn’t be one of those hoax-ters, hoax-ians, Hoax-ites? He’d have to look that up later.

He flared his nostrils. What was she planning?

Looking guilty and backing away she said, “Your morning meeting is here.” Her voice cracked a little. She must be hiding something.

Taking off his coat, boots, and hat, he placed them in their proper areas. His hat shifted and he righted it. Jaunty was for pirates and criminals not hat racks.

When he had put away all his things he looked at his watch, it read eight-fifteen. His client was dreadfully early. Their meeting was set for eight-forty-five. They would just have to wait.

At precisely eight-forty-three, he walked into the boardroom. His client was sitting at the large table reading a book. A large hardcover book with bright colours and some sort of large lizard on it.

When she put down the book Felix was transfixed by the intelligent green eyes that had been hiding behind it. Beyond piercing eyes was a perfectly symmetrical face on a proportional head. The rest of her was well dressed and professional. Her suit could be the perfect match for his with the exception that she wore a scarf and not a tie. The scarf however was dark red; the shade was perfectly mirrored in her lipstick.

Despite her use of garish colour, he felt well disposed towards her. Which he’d would openly admit is better than he felt about most of the human race.

“Mister Felicis, it is nice to finally meet you,” she held out her hand and to his great shock he shook it. Normally he would expect there to be an electric buzzer or some other nonsense but he had been so distracted by his first impression that he didn’t consider it. There was no buzzer.

“Same to you Ms…?” he waited for her to sit before he did.

“Oh of course you’ve been dealing with my admin haven’t you. I’m Amanda Eris.”

“Nice to meet you Ms Eris. How can I be of service today?” He said it and was shocked with the realization that be meant it and wasn’t just being pleasant.

“Actually, I’ve been sent here to make sure you don’t die until next week.” Her left eyebrow went up slightly and she seemed to be smiling.

“Uhm, I see,” he started and then exclaimed, “What?” This had to be one of those vile chaotic jokes.

He got up, turned around and was about to leave when she said the words that would change Felix’s life forever, “I’m not joking look.” She pointed the remote control towards the boardroom television.

On the television were firefighters and police officers, along with multiple screaming people. Such a disgusting sight that he didn’t recognize his own apparent building until his picture was shown on the screen with the words “Suspect” under it.

Read Part Two

Evil not Stupid

Word of the Day: sternutation

It was a lumbering hulk of a castle, built completely of black stone. The plans where drawn up by thirteen crazed wizards and at times it seemed like there was no way to if a corridor went to a bed chamber or a crocodile pit. Also there seemed to be a distinct lack of washrooms. This meant it was always empty until an attack when monsters and guard magically appeared in random and unexpected places.

“Sir” Said the small hunchbacked Dwarf. “I have the information you asked for about the prophesised hero.”

The Evil villain rose his long black cape billowed in anticipation. His eyes crackled with power and the Dwarf was forced to look away.

The response, in contrast to his movements, came slowly anger boiling behind each word waiting for an excuse to bubble over. “Yes, Dwarf. What is it that you have learned.”

Dwarves shouldn’t squeak they are a proud race with deep voices but this Dwarf shamed his people by almost mimicking Mickey Mouse’s voice. “Sir, he shall pose no… no, threat to you.”

“That is for me to decide minion. Don’t insult me with your petty assumptions.” His composed voice rose in a contemptuous crescendo; the last word causing the walls themselves to shake.  

Darting back and squeaking un-Dwarf-like once again he continued “Bu…But he is nothing master. A simple farm boy, with a rag tag group of friends. He is just lucky that he’s made it this far without killing himself.”

At the words “farm boy” the Villain jerked backwards his face contorted as if he was going to sneeze, but the sternutation never came and his face became more twisted in shock with every word.

“Sir…” the Dwarf stuttered before continuing, “his only advantage is that he wields his fathers sword”

The villain shuddered and sat back onto his throne. When he spoke again all power and strength had disappeared from his voice, “Is one of his companions not from around here? Were his adopted parents killed? Does he have a quirky talking animal sidekick?”

The Dwarf looked confused having never heard fear in his master’s voice before, “Yes Sir, to all your questions. But don’t worry Sir. I have good news. He’s been hurt. His wounds are most likely fatal and if he does survive he’ll be scarred for life.”

Now the villain looked three feet shorted and spoke slowly again but his words quivered in fear, “Scarred for life… Oh god it’s the end of the second act.” He got up running to his chambers he took out a large travelling chest and started to put anything around him into it.

The Dwarf watched him confused, finally working up the courage to ask, “Where are you going Sir?”

The Villain lifted the travelling chest and put a hand on the Dwarfs shoulder. “You’ve been a good lackey but I know when the full force or literary tripe is coming at me and I assume there must be other countries or worlds I can rule.”

Taking his black onyx crown off his head and placing it on that of the Dwarf’s, he said, “Good luck.” Before disappearing.

Word of the day Expatiate

Today’s work is Expatiate.

The pressure was suffocating, the sun was blinding but was nothing compared to the noise. It burrowed into his head and expanded threatening to push his brain out of his ears.

Quickly he closed the door. He tried walking into the world once every year and it became more difficult every time. If it were up to him he’d just stay in his dark cool basement bedroom. Frank, his brother, insisted that he try leaving every year and every year the fear was overwhelming. How could people live like that, so much noise everywhere bright lights, all trying to assault your senses? Then there was the smell and the sky, by far the sky was the most terrifying thing he could imagine; a blue void waiting to collapse or a black speckled vacuum relentlessly beating on the fragile atmosphere of earth. He’d tried to explain it to his parents, his brother, the doctors; they said he was delusional or agoraphobic. They wanted to roam freely in the large scary world and all he wanted was to stay in the basement, reading and writing. He wasn’t a great writer he hadn’t been published or tried to be he simply enjoyed putting words and stories on paper.

In his writing fear didn’t control his world, he controlled everything it was the closest he’d been to true freedom. In his stories he could expatiate the world and his imagination.

He had friends in every character he wrote or read but no one understood his passion anymore then his fear.

One day he’d have to leave, he knew it, but for now he was happy and had been for so long it didn’t matter to him that he was missing anything because he had everything he needed. The fear was still there and strong but the will to be normal died so long ago he barely remembered it.

Alien abduction stories were some of his favourite to read but he could never write one. It didn’t come to him like other stories could, he certainly never expected to live one.

The Professor


“The world ends?” She asked.
“Yep that’s what at least four ancient civilizations say.” He spoke with a slight lisp but it didn’t detract from his chiseled jaw or bright smile.
“Oh come now, professor, why should we believe what extinct civilizations say? I don’t see you sacrificing any virgins to make sure the sun rises but more then four civilizations believed it was necessary.” Dashani’s ponytail bobbed with every word and her high pitched voice aggravated everyone in the class but him. Sometimes he felt that they were almost alone in class conversing like two adults in a coffee shop. Often he would forget about the other dozen graduate students in his class as she spoke to him her auburn eyes flickering in his direction.

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